Loose Women is to make history today by introducing the first ever trans woman to present an all-female talk show.
India Willoughby, 51, will join the panel after proving to be a hit with viewers when she appeared on the show last month when she talked about living as a TV journalist called Jonathan and her subsequent transition.
Upon hearing the news she had landed the historic role, she gushed: “I just can’t believe it. I absolutely love the show so it’s beyond my wildest dreams to be a guest panellist.
“My history will add something different to the mix and it’s the perfect fit for me.
She added: “All the Loose Women have overcome some sort of adversity, they all carry battle scars and that’s what makes them interesting people. Mine just happens to be my body.”
However, India says that choosing Loose Women came down to the fact that she had been assured that her role wasn’t a case of stunt casting.
“I didn’t want to be considered a novelty,” she said. “I’ve turned down several TV offers. I want to be working on merit and that’s why it was so perfect for me, because I’m just a girl next door.
“If I can help others in my situation by becoming a panellist, well that’s terrific.”
India, who has a son, has revealed that she decided something had to change in her during a live broadcast in 2010 that she could no longer live a lie.
“I was doing a live interview when I caught sight of myself in one of the monitors,” she told The Mirror. “I was nice and smart in my suit but I knew I couldn’t go on because that person wasn’t me.
“I went home in tears, absolutely distraught. I bought myself a bottle of wine and drank it.
“At the end of that night I thought I was going to do myself in. I thought I would rather have a clean death to keep my secret a secret.
“Fortunately for me I’m a terrible drinker and I fell asleep, which in a way might have saved my life.”
Now happy in her life, India, now 52 and is also due to appear on Come Dine With Me, says she wishes she had had the confidence to embrace her true self earlier on in life.
“I really do wish I had the courage to speak up when I was younger.
“But now that I’ve done it, life begins at 50 for me. I’ve got a whole lot of living to do and I can’t wait to get on with it.”